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If you’ve downloaded a file and are not sure you can trust it before opening it, did you know you can use Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) to scan it for viruses without running a full virus scan?  MSE lets you do this and it can help give you peace of mind before opening an unknown file.

This feature can be particularly useful if you’re opening a file from removable media (CD, DVD, external HDD etc.) and MSE’s real-time virus checker has not had a chance to do a preliminary scan at the file yet. If you’ve turned off real-time virus scanning, this will also help you avoid virus infection.

Caution: Even if a virus checker doesn’t detect a virus, never open a file from an untrusted source.

Realizing I didn’t have an infected file to use for this guide, I went to the source of many viruses: a torrent tracker and grabbed a copy of “Adobe Photoshop Lightroom v3.2” (don’t worry, I promptly deleted it.)

Scan an File/Folder for Viruses

1. If you don’t already have it installed, download and install Microsoft Security Essentials (learn more about MSE.)

2. Open up Windows Explorer (Winkey+E) and browse to the directory that contains the file/folder you want to scan

3. Right click the file or folder and click Scan with Microsoft Security Essentials…

4. Hopefully your journey ends here and you’re informed the file is clean. If however, the file is infected, continue to the next section.

Remove a Virus with Microsoft Security Essentials

If MSE has detected an infected file, you should delete it immediately.

1. Upon notice of an infected file, click Clean Computer

2. MSE will clean the file from your PC:

3. After the file is clean, you may Close MSE

4. You’re almost done… once you’ve detected a virus on your PC:

  • Notify others who may also have the file (did this file come via email?)
  • If you run backups, make sure the file is removed from your backups
  • If the file came from optical media i.e. CD/DVD, destroy the disc, if possible, to avoid future infection
  • Inform the distributor of the file that it’s compromised and should not be shared

If the Virus Can’t be Deleted…

If you’ve followed the steps above but still can’t delete the file, please start a topic in Windows Forums and we’ll help you solve the issue.

About Rich

Rich is the owner and creator of Windows Guides; he spends his time breaking things on his PC so he can write how-to guides to fix them.

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8 thoughts on “Scan a File for Viruses with Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) [How To]”

  1. UVAIS says:

    Superb AV Software with good Option like Disinfect

  2. vynnymm says:

    Simple and fast, the best is MSE!

  3. 46 Alex says:

    Virustotal is a much best option.

    1. Red says:

      Alex Virustotal is sometimes wrong trust me.

  4. 46 Alex says:

    Virustotal is a much best option.

  5. Jujukemp says:

    what does it mean if the scan just stops while scanning a file not stop but takes along time to move the time still going but not finishing

  6. ryan says:

    So for some reason the, “Scan With…” option no longer appears in the right click window. It was there one day and gone the next. how to i get that to come back? Sooo very annoying having to open up MSE, selecting custom quick scan, then going to the file location just to scan one single file.

  7. Jesse Bossi says:

    Yeah my ”Scan With…” option is gone too… anyone know how to get it back?

Comments are closed.

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